Greater Manchester make 100% ‘net-zero’ buildings pledge

All new buildings in the Greater Manchester area are set to be ‘net-zero’ carbon within the next 10 years, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has announced.

The local authority has published its draft Greater Manchester Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment, outlining plans to decouple emissions from economic growth as the region’s economy and population expand over the coming 20 years.

A headline aim of the policy framework is for all new buildings and other infrastructure built within the region to be ‘net-zero’ carbon by 2028 – a move the local authority has said is “key” to achieving its overarching pledge to become a carbon-neutral city region by 2038.

Under the new policy, buildings will be required to produce no operational carbon emissions. The GMCA has not yet confirmed whether its definition of ‘net-zero’ will also require carbon-neutral construction and supply chains.

Any proposed fracking projects will be rejected under the plan, as these will not be classed as ‘net-zero’ developments.

“The need to decarbonise our economy means we need to look at low carbon energy generation and storage, retrofitting of buildings, and low-carbon transport,” Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said.

“Future climate change pressures will also require the city-region to adapt to bigger shocks and stresses, such as increased heat, drought and flood risk, which may require new sources of funding to be identified.”

The launch of the draft plan has been welcomed by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), which is now encouraging other local authorities to follow the GMCA’s lead.

“Today’s announcement shows Greater Manchester to be a national - if not international - leader in net-zero carbon policy and is a typically forthright challenge to central Government, which has dragged its heels on zero-carbon buildings for most of the last decade,” UKGBC’s director of policy and places John Alker said.

“As ever, the devil is in the detail, but this leaves no doubt about the direction of travel. This is a challenge that the industry can and should embrace, leading to better buildings for both people and planet.”

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